San Francisco- While Algerian President Bouteflika was hosting his guest Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who arrived Thursday morning for a very short visit of only a few hours, his police force continued to protest outside the presidential palace, demanding a pay raise, free housing, better working conditions, and compensation when injured on the job.
The police have also demanded that the Director General of National Security General Hamel Abdelghani be fired. Abdelghani is accused of “hogra”, or spreading injustice and bullying within the police corps.
Curiously enough, the police protest started in the southern oasis city Ghardaia, where sectarian clashes between Berber and Arab communities take place on a regular basis. Since last December, a dozen people have been killed and many more injured. Several houses were looted and burned, shops and schools were closed, and thousands of police officers deployed to quell the violence.
The Algerian government is now unable to afford the hundreds of thousands of police officers recruited during the Arab Spring to prevent the chaos that took place in nearby countries such as Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.
The Algerian government relied tremendously on this police force during the last presidential elections to oppress anyone who was against Bouteflika.
The Berbers of Ghardaia accused this police force of “passivity, complicity, and mercenary-ism“. They are well aware that the current, corrupt Algerian regime relies heavily on their services and could not pass up the opportunity to ask for whatever it feels is a well-deserved price for keeping the masses under control in Ghardaia and in every other inch of Algeria.
While demonstrations and protests are never legal in Algeria, the Algerian police force does not impose this ban on itself, and thus can use its status to break the same anti-demonstration law that they force the masses to obey.
The Algerian police force is not the one to be blamed here. The unscrupulous system of governance in Algeria is the cause. It has created an environment where everyone in power wants a piece of the pie, and the regime is very willing to do whatever is necessary to oblige them in order to continue to stay in power and dominate the life of the Algerian citizen.
The Algerian Prime Minister Sellal met with representatives of the police and quickly brokered a deal with them, but refused their demand of creating an independent union, proposing instead a national commission. He is well aware that it will be almost impossible to control a union.
The Algerian regime still thinks that it can indefinitely buy the peace with money, and is unable to understand that being forced to make deals is only a temporary fix. Eventually, and most likely very soon, another public service force will rise up and demand to receive the same incentives that the police has just received. Will the Algerian regime, whose sole source of income is oil, be able to continue to bribe itself into temporary peace?
What will happen when the regular Algerian military personnel decide to rise up as well, and ask for the same thing the police have just received? Will the regime be able to contain the protest and bribe itself out of trouble?
There are some Algerians who actually believe that the oil in their country is nothing but a curse, and wish their country had no oil. They understand that wealth, when mismanaged, only serves the few. Many others are certain we will not live to see a North African union due to the curse of one country being richer than the other.
The majority of Algerians in social media however do not favor a Maghreb Union. They say that Morocco will benefit the most, and besides, it has nothing to offer except drugs and poverty. The Algerian regime has succeeded in making its people believe that they can do it alone, and sadly the people are believing the regime.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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